Three women, three MS journeys: How multiple sclerosis looks different for everyone
Gina, Nathalie and Helga share their reactions to being diagnosed with MS and how they stay informed and positive in the face of ever-changing symptoms.
It’s been 155 years since neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot gave the first lecture on a mysterious progressive illness he called “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, we’ve learned a lot. We know MS causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, including damaging the brain and spinal cord. Resulting symptoms can be debilitating and include fatigue, blurred vision, memory problems and weakness. Huge advancements in our understanding of MS and its underlying causes, as well as treatment advances, have been made in the past few decades, but MS remains a complex and unpredictable reality for the 2.8 million+ people diagnosed around the world.
Ironically, the only real constant for people living with MS is change. There’s no set pattern or standard progression of the disease, so each person’s experience is unique. Some people with MS have mild symptoms that worsen slowly but sometimes improve, while others can have severe symptoms that drastically alter their daily lives.
All people with MS share some things in common, however, such as the need to stay informed on the ever-evolving research, find various lines of support and try to remain hopeful as they continue living with the disease.
To better understand what navigating life with MS really looks like, three women shared their MS stories with us. Their journeys demonstrate how MS can look different for different people and interestingly, how the language used to talk about the disease can greatly impact how people understand their realities.
Gina loves riding her horse, Benita.Courtesy of Sanofi
Gina—Hamburg, Germany (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2017)
When her youngest son was 4 months old, Gina started having problems with her eye. She’d soon learn she was experiencing optic neuritis—her first symptom of MS.
“Immediately after the diagnosis, I looked up facts on MS because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gina says. “And as soon as I knew what could really happen with this disease, I actually got scared.”
As her family’s primary income provider, she worried about how MS would impact her ability to work as a writer and editor. Her family was afraid she was going to end up in a wheelchair. However, for now, Gina’s MS is managed well enough that she still works full-time and is able to be active.
“When I tell somebody that I have MS, they often don't believe me the first time because I don't fulfill any stereotypes,” she says.
Overwhelmed by negative perspectives on living with MS, Gina sought support in the online MS community, which she found to be much more positive.
“I think it’s important to use as many positive words as you can when talking about MS.” It’s important to be realistic while also conveying hope, she says. “MS is an insidious disease that can cause many bad symptoms…that can be frightening, and you can't gloss over it, either.”
To give back to the online community that helped her so much, Gina started a blog to share her story and help others trying to learn about their diagnosis.
Though she deals with fatigue and cognitive dysfunction sometimes, Gina stays active swimming, biking, riding horses and playing with her sons, who are now 11 and 6.
Cognitive dysfunction is common in MS, with over half of people affected. It can impact memory, attention, planning, and word-finding. As with many aspects of MS, some people experience mild changes, while others face more challenges.
Gina says that while there’s still a lot of education about MS needed, she feels positive about the future of MS because there’s so much research being done.
Nathalie is an award-winning rower with multiple international titles.Courtesy of Sanofi
Nathalie — Pennes Mirabeau, France (diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2002)
Nathalie was a teenager and a competitive athlete when she noticed her first symptoms of MS, but it would take four years of “limbo” before she was diagnosed.
“Ultimately, the diagnosis was more of a relief, than a shock,” she says. “Because when you have signs and you don’t know why, it’s worse than knowing, in the end, what you have.”
However, learning more about the disease—and the realities of disease progression—scared her.
“That glimpse of the future was direct and traumatic,” she says. Her neurologist explained that the disease evolves differently for everyone, and her situation might end up being serious or very mild. So, she decided to stop comparing herself to others with MS.
She said to herself, “We’ll see what happens, and you’ll manage it bit by bit.”
By 2005, Nathalie’s MS had progressed to the point of needing a wheelchair. However, that has not dampened her competitive spirit.
Nathalie began her international rowing career in 2009 and has won multiple world titles, including two Paralympic medals—silver in London and bronze in Tokyo. Now, at 42, she still trains 11 times a week. Fatigue can be a problem, and sometimes hard workouts leave her with muscle stiffness and shaking, but she credits her ongoing sports career for helping her feel in tune with her body’s signals.
“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my body, letting my body guide when I need to stop and take breaks,” she says.
Nathalie explains that she used to only look backwards because of the initial shock of her diagnosis. In time, she stopped thinking about what she couldn’t do anymore and focused on her future. She now lives in the following mindset: “Even when doors close, don’t miss out on those that open.” Instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she focuses on the opportunities she still has. Right now, this includes her training for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, where she will compete for another rowing medal.
“I only go forward,” she says. “Well, I try, anyway…It’s easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. But that’s what I try to do.”
Helga's Great Dane has become a helpful and beloved companion.Courtesy of Sanofi
Helga—Johannesburg, South Africa (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2010)
When Helga first started having balance issues and numbness in her feet, she chalked it up to her training as a runner. But when the numbness moved to her face, she knew something was wrong. She never guessed it was MS.
“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely overwhelmed and clueless,” Helga says. “I felt that I had nowhere near enough information. I did not know anything about the disease…I had no idea that it was going to be a process of continually monitoring and adjusting your lifestyle.”
In the beginning, Helga’s symptoms developed slowly, and she didn’t appear ill to others. She was even able to run for a few years after her diagnosis, but she couldn’t do marathons anymore, and she began to fall frequently due to balance issues and right-foot dragging. Then her cognition issues became more problematic, especially in her job as a trainer in a printing company.
“My executive function, decision-making and short-term memory were affected to the point that I was eventually medically unfit for work,” she says. She stopped working in 2017.
However, she didn’t stop living life. Even though she could no longer run, she continued to swim competitively. She got a Great Dane puppy and trained him as a service dog to help her walk. She also serves as vice chair of the patient support organization Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, and she advises others who have been diagnosed to join a patient advocacy group as soon as possible to get reliable information and meet others with MS.
Helga says she is “hopeful” about the future of MS. “I must say that I am so grateful that we have all the new medications available, because my life would not be the same if it wasn't for that,” she adds.
Part of how she manages her MS is by looking at the positives.
“If I could tell the world one thing about MS, it would be that MS is an incurable disease of the nervous system, but it's also the greatest teacher of valuing your health, family, friends, and managing change in your life,” she says. “My life is diversified in a way that I never, ever thought it would, and MS has been honestly the greatest teacher.”
Each MS journey is unique – with each person impacted experiencing different struggles, successes, and feelings as they manage this unpredictable disease. But the common thread is clear – there is a critical need for information, support, and hope. We are proud to participate in World MS Day and share these incredible stories of living life while living with MS. To learn more about MS, go to https://www.sanofi.com/why-words-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-multiple-sclerosis.
This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Participants were compensated when applicable.
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AI has brought back 15 languages people haven’t heard for centuries. Here's what they sound like.
Fifth-century English is impossible to understand.
Given that language evolves so rapidly, it’s hard to imagine what people sounded like 200 years ago, let alone 500 or a thousand. Even when we watch movies about ancient civilizations, the characters usually speak in a language similar to the audience, giving us a false sense of what people in those times were like.
The folks at Equator AI are giving people a realistic idea of what people in ancient civilizations sounded like by recreating the languages of 15 languages that haven't been heard in centuries. In the video, the languages are spoken by computer-generated recreations of people who lived in that era.
The Equator channel on YouTube has numerous videos that recreate historical figures to make them relatable to people of today. Equator “strives to preserve and revive the past of mankind, making it closer and more understandable for people of our era.”
One of the most interesting parts of the video is the young man speaking 5th-century Old English. It sounds a bit like a mix of English spoken by a modern-day Scotsman with a dash of Latin rhythms and a lot of R-rolling. English has changed so much over the past 1500-plus years that it bears little resemblance to the language spoken today.
“Old English is mind-blowing! How could it sound so different?” TechnoGlowStick commented.
“They really loved rolling the ‘r’s, don't they,” Huai Wei Edmund Teo added.
The video is a wonderful way to visit the past while also a reminder that our language will continue to evolve. And one day, in the not-so-distant future, people will dig up old footage of people speaking English in 2023 and have no idea what they're saying.
Here's a list of all the languages in the video:
0:01 Old Norse
1:29 Middle Chinese
1:57 Old English
2:28 Old Japanese
2:57 Old Church Slavonic
3:26 Proto-Celtic language
3:56 Middle Egyptian
4:26 Ryukyuan language
4:56 Ancient Greek
5:30 Phoenician language
5:53 Hittite language
6:53 Akkadian language
'Ted Lasso' excelled at portraying platonic love. Here are the show's Top 6 'love stories.'
We all love a romantic love story, but it's just as fulfilling to witness these platonic love stories play out.
"Ted Lasso" has wrapped up its third and final season, leaving people analyzing and debating and feeling all kinds of feelings about the series and its characters.
Since watching the final episode, I've been thinking about what I've loved most about the show, because seriously, there's a lot to love. Ted himself, of course. The quirky cast of characters. The humor. The triumph and redemption. Roy Kent's grumbles. Sam Obisanya's everything.
Then there are the relationships, which is where the show really shines. Not so much the romantic relationships—those were somewhat meh in the end—but the way the show portrayed genuine platonic love in its various hues. Considering how many shows (over)utilize romance and sex for dramatic effect, it was refreshing to see multiple relationships develop and deepen over three seasons without any romance involved.
Here are (in my humble opinion) the six best platonic relationships on "Ted Lasso."
6. Trent Crimm and Colin (The Older Mentor Relationship)
One of the most touching scenes of the series was when Richmond player Colin and journalist Trent Crimm (Independent) sat in front of a memorial in Amsterdam that honors the LGBTQ+ people who were persecuted, imprisoned and killed during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and talked through Colin's feelings about his double life. He was afraid to come out to his teammates, and Trent Crimm had the personal experience and wisdom Colin needed in a mentor.
Crimm offered that mentorship humbly, without being pushy or preachy. The love he showed Colin was a love born of understanding and empathy, which was exactly what Colin needed. And the love Colin had for Crimm was born of gratitude and appreciation. Some of our most valuable relationships in life are the ones we have with a mentor who helps us find the courage to bloom into our truest and best selves.
5. Ted and Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (The Mutually Therapeutic Relationship)
This relationship began with Ted's disdain for psychologists and Dr. Fieldstone's expert response to his ire. As she patiently let him process his anger, the two developed a healthy therapist-client relationship.
But what was lovely about this storyline was how, despite her attempts to keep a professional distance, Sharon also let Ted into her world, which turned out to be beneficial to both of them. They formed a genuine human relationship in which they each become vulnerable in order to break through their own barriers. The love they shared was based on a reciprocal sharing of pain and fear and a mutual honoring of those feelings, which allowed them both to find healing.
4. Rebecca and Keely (The Classic Girly Friendship)
At first blush, Rebecca and Keely don't seem like likely friends. Rebecca is a refined, polished, high-powered businesswoman going through a bit of a mid-life crisis, and Keely is a young start-up who wears pigtails and miniskirts and appears flighty despite actually being quite whipsmart. It's a Jaguar-meets-Volkswagon bug friendship, but somehow it works.
The love they share is based on their shared identity as women in the sports business as well as the qualities they bring out in each other. Rebecca helps give Keely the confidence she needs to find success in her PR business, and Keely gives Rebecca the dose of fun and girlish silliness she needs to stay sane in a male-dominated world. Every woman needs a "girl talk" confidant, and these two provide that for each other.
3. Ted and Coach Beard (The Ride or Die Besties)
Ted and Coach Beard have been through a lot together, and the final season gave us a little insight into how their relationship came about. It should come as no surprise that Ted's unconditional love and acceptance won Beard's undying loyalty, but the love these two share is recognizable to anyone with a bestie. They read each other's thoughts. They aren't afraid to be real with each other. They know when to give each other space. The fact that the other is always beside them and behind them is just a given.
Even though Beard stays in England in the end, we know that their love for one another will remain forever strong. If either one needs something, the other will be there in a blink, no questions asked. This is rock-solid, reliable, forever friendship.
2. Jamie and Roy (The Unlikely Brotherhood)
Bitter-rivals-to-best-friends is always a winning storyline, but the relationship between these two is particularly enjoyable to witness. In reality, they share a lot in common—a good heart buried beneath a big ego, an intense work ethic and similar taste in women—which is why they butt heads so much. The love they end up sharing has been hard-won through uncomfortable moments of reaching out and letting their compassion and vulnerability trump their pride.
They understand each other more than most. They've both been living on emotional islands, largely of their own making, and they're probably the only ones who could truly reach one another. And ultimately, they both become better people because of their friendship, which is exactly what friendship should do.
1. Ted and Rebecca (The Proof that Men and Women Can Be Close Friends)
Over the three years that they built the Richmond team together, Ted and Rebecca became good friends. That's it. Good, close friends who love one another very much. They're both attractive and were both available much of the time, but they remained just friends. Yes, she was technically his boss, but that didn't stop her from getting involved with Sam, so it's not like it would have been completely out of bounds for the show makers to put Ted and Rebecca together. They teased us with it a few times, but I'm so glad they didn't do it.
We've really shot ourselves in the foot as a society by making it seem like women and men can never truly be friends. (Thanks a bunch, "When Harry Met Sally!") Rebecca was the last one to say goodbye to Ted at the airport, and it was an emotionally intimate moment that portrayed how pure the love between them was without romance or sex getting in the way. And it was absolutely beautiful.
One of the words people use to describe "Ted Lasso" is "wholesome, which is a bit ironic considering how many f-bombs got dropped in each episode. But much of the show's wholesomeness hinged on these platonic relationships that grew deeper and stronger without crossing the line into romantic involvement. Advertisers and executives think people want sex, when what we really want to see is genuine human connection and a full spectrum of relationships that evolve without always ending up in bed.
We all love a romantic love story, but it's just as fulfilling to witness platonic love stories play out. Thank you, "Ted Lasso," for showing us how it's done.
Watch the cast talk about the real friendships they developed on set while filming the show:
Man lists things millennials grew up with that Gen Z would be outraged by
"Imagine telling them that their free unlimited minutes only started after 9:00 and on the weekends."
There will likely always be some kind of playful generation war going on between older and younger generations. This time it's a millennial throwing what some may deem as truth bombs at Gen Z, seemingly unprompted. (Well, it could be that he's upset that Gen Z is getting all the credit for being tech savvy since the majority of his complaints were technology related.)
Dwight Thomas uploaded a video to TikTok listing things that millennials grew up with that the generation below him would be outraged by. As someone who would be considered an elder millennial by some people, I'd have to agree. The man makes some valid points about things we experienced as teenagers that would likely make teens today aggressively send out Change.org petitions.
"These new-age kids will never understand the struggle. Imagine telling them that their free unlimited minutes only started after 9:00 and on the weekends," Thomas says into the camera.
He goes on to talk about trying to have a love life during those times. Since phone access was restricted, you had limited time to woo anyone after school, which meant the alternative was attempting to do it during school hours. But that was also a problem because teachers were kind of tattle-tales back then, according to Thomas.
"It's not even like you could talk to your friends at school 'cause they would call your house and tell your mama that you didn't care about your education and you wasn't trying to learn," he complained. "Because all you come to school for is to sit around and talk to your friends."
Honestly, the video is causing flashbacks, especially when he talks about teachers intercepting love notes and reading them in front of the class. Thomas jokes about how millennials were making history with their self-taught coding skills on MySpace while the younger generation has the help of AI. The entire video is full of head-nodding moments if you grew up a millennial, or like me, a Xennial. Watch it below.
We was out here making history! But go off though..
Farmers are pretending their chickens are 'armies' and battling it out on TikTok
The "Chicken Wars" might be the most wholesome online trend ever.
TikTok has no shortage of silly trends, but this one is so clucking cute.
In a bizarre phenomenon dubbed the “chicken wars,” farmers have begun posting videos of themselves hyping up their flocks, which they call “armies,” and bragging about how their army would “win” in a theoretical battle against another flock.According to Insider, the trend began on May 27, after a farmer named Dylan (@dylan_bezjack) posted a video of himself strutting in front of his feathered friends and doing some playful trash talking.
“You better watch out there, pal,” Dylan says in the clip. “Me and my posse are on our way to kick some a** and take some names here!”
And thus, the Chicken Wars began.
@dylan_bezjack#i#aint#no#chicken♬ original sound - Hill billy of Alberta
Challengers began rising up from the woodwork to answer the call and create their own hilarious stitched replies. And now, TikTok is enthralled. Currently, the platform has over 59 million views for the hashtag #chickenwars, with folks calling it the “best thing on the internet.”
What’s so contagiously joyous about these videos is the farmers’ commitment to the bit. Behold, one farmer boasted a formidable infantry of 4,000 lane hens and boldly called it “game over.”
@justthebells10 Winner of Chicken Wars of 2023 😉 #chickenwars#chickenwars2023#farmlife#chickenfarm#justthebells10#familygoals#summertime#chickens♬ Avengers - Infinity War - The Avengers Theme - Geek Music
Another somehow rallied his troops to be able to spell the word “win,” thereby intimidating his foes with a clear sign of superior intelligence and solidarity.
This one below is certainly a fan favorite. As “Eye of The Tiger” plays in the background, Reec Swiney of @blackyardchickenz makes a training montage, putting his hens through a protein-packed breakfast, agility drills and “flight simulation” exercises.
Watch til the end to see the “big guns” Swiney plans to bring in if all else fails…otherwise known as his adorable pet bunny.
@blackyardchickenz Who you calling CHICKEN 😤 . #chickenwars#chicken#chickens#chickendaddy♬ original sound - Reec BlackYardChickenz Swiney
“Oh my GOD! He’s done got Thumper in this now!” one person commented.
No matter which side you take for the Chicken Wars, we can all agree that this is some seriously wholesome entertainment. It’s interesting to see what kinds of antics go on between farmers and their animals during the day. Who could forget Emmanuel the mischievous emu? What’s not to like about watching baby goats perform a ballet?
We all have some idea of what farm life entails, but for many of us, the details are a mystery. Glimpses like this show how much fun can be had when looking after animals. And, in this case, prepping them for imaginary battle.Start pecking around for even more Chicken Wars stories over on TikTok.
Meet the 11 outstanding nonprofits that took home this year’s Classy Awards
Each organization has gone above and beyond to make our world a better place.
Since 2009, the Classy Awards have celebrated nonprofits for their unique approaches to making our world a better place for everyone. Winners are given a platform to amplify their cause and showcase the positive impact of their programs.
This year, we are proud to announce that the Classy Awards have partnered with Upworthy, and we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on the 2023 winners.
From championing gender equality, to massively reducing food waste, to providing trade-based skills training to the neurodivergent community, each organization has made an incredible contribution to the betterment of our world.
Collectively through their efforts, nearly 1.5 million people and animals were served across 34 countries worldwide last year alone. That’s a win in itself.
Check out the 11 winners for 2023 below:
412 Food Rescue
In an effort to address the growing concern of food waste, hunger, and environmental sustainability, 412 Food Rescue uses an innovative app to match volunteers, aka Food Heroes, with other organizations that might have a surplus of perfectly good but unsellable food that would otherwise be wasted and redirect it to people who need it.
Food Heroes has redirected 137 million pounds of edible food from landfills to the people who need it most.
Arnold Schwarzenegger says Heaven is a 'fantasy.' Here's why that's not a terrible idea.
At 75, "The Terminator" is thinking about the big issues.
At 75, Arnold Schwarzenegger is thinking about the big questions of life. He opened up about his thoughts on the afterlife in a conversation with his “Twins” co-star Danny DeVito for Interview Magazine.
Devito asked “The Terminator” star, “What's in the future for us?" and he gave a thoughtful answer to a question that philosophers, scientists and religious leaders have grappled with since the dawn of humanity.
"It reminds me of Howard Stern's question to me. 'Tell me, governor, what happens to us when we die?' I said, 'Nothing. You're 6 feet under,'” he told DeVito.
"I said, 'We don't know what happens with the soul and all this spiritual stuff that I'm not an expert in, but I know that the body as we see each other now, we will never see each other again like that,'" continued Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger admitted that he’s not comfortable with the topic of death but thinks the notion of a heaven is a “fantasy.”
"When people talk about, 'I will see them again in heaven,' it sounds so good, but the reality is that we won't see each other again after we're gone. That's the sad part. I know people feel comfortable with death, but I don't,'" he said.
Instead, the bodybuilder has created his own concept of heaven.
"To me, heaven is where I put a person who I love dearly, who is kind, who is generous, who made a difference in my life and other people's lives," he said. "I keep them in a spot in my head, like that front row that you have of all of your friends. And you always have a good feeling when you think of them."
There are far-reaching implications for all of humanity if there is no afterlife. But on a personal level, Schwarzenegger’s belief suggests that if we only have a short time on this Earth with one another, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. Plus, the day-to-day relationships we enjoy with our loved ones lose their significance when they are played out in a timeframe that extends throughout eternity.
The finite nature of relationships is why we love our pets so dearly. The moment they enter our lives, we are burdened by the knowledge that they will one day leave. So we savor every cuddle, game of fetch and long walk on a spring day.
On a deeper level, every day beneath a bright, glowing sun matters more with the understanding that this is the only life we get and no paradise awaits on the other side. It suggests that if all of humanity shared Schwarzenegger’s view of things, we’d be more invested in making life better in the here and now versus waiting for something better around the corner. Imagine the paradigm shift if billions of people stopped waiting for their treasures in heaven and instead, began embracing the possibilities of the here and now.
With this perspective and some work, love and courage, humanity could make this world a touch closer to the paradise we pray for on the other side. And if when we die, there is a heaven, all the better.